January 10, 2009
4 min read

One-on-one with Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP

HemOnc Today spoke with Trump about travel, art and the future of oncology.

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Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP, is president and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. and is the Genitourinary Cancers Section Editor on the HemOnc Today Editorial Board. Between 1970 and 1975, he served as resident in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and was chief resident on the Osler Service in 1975. He is currently a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and is past secretary/treasurer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP

President and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Former Secretary/Treasurer of ASCO

Section Editor – Genitourinary Cancers, HemOnc Today Editorial Board

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not practicing medicine?

I enjoy spending time with my kids. I have a freshman in college, a senior in college and a tax-lawyer son in D.C. I also love to play golf. Two of my three kids play golf so we often spend time doing that. We’ve taken a couple of trips to Scotland; my favorite place in the world to play golf is Dornoch in the north of Scotland.

If you hadn’t gone into oncology or medicine, what would you have done?

I would love to believe that I might have been able to make a living playing golf, but I doubt it, so I’m lucky that I went into medicine. I didn’t have any plan B; I wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. I don’t really know why, but I did become a doctor and it’s worked out well.

What would you consider one of your biggest successes in your specialty?

I suppose I have two successes. One is that I’m proud of the work that I’ve done with vitamin D over the last 10 or 15 years, trying to develop it as a way to treat and prevent cancer. I’m equally proud of the job I have at Roswell Park, being able to lead an NCI-designated cancer center — particularly one that’s doing as well and growing like Roswell Park — is wonderful.

What is the last book you read?

The last book I read was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro; it was a little slow. I am proud of having stuck it out, but it wasn’t easy.

What is the last art collection you saw?

The special place I’ve seen art is called Olana, which is the home of Frederick Church who was one of the early painters from the Hudson River School. He built a mansion on top of a hill outside of Hudson, N.Y., that is filled with his art. His art is panoramic, spectacular landscape paintings.

What is the last CD you bought?

It was a CD by Yo-Yo Ma and Ennio Morricone, who has written a number of movie scores. He wrote “The Mission” and some of the spaghetti westerns like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” and [on this CD] Yo-Yo Ma was playing some of his music; it’s mystical.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever received is a paraphrase, probably from my mother, who said “be honest and caring.”

Who do you consider a mentor?

The closest thing to a mentor or role model I had was Marty Abeloff from Hopkins. Marty was three or four years ahead of me in training. He was a junior faculty oncologist at Hopkins when I decided that I wanted to become an oncologist and that I wanted to pursue a career in academic medicine. I valued the way Marty conducted himself and how his career developed. Often at branch points in my career I sought his advice. He was very successful and an excellent role model. I saw his career develop because I wasn’t all that far behind him, so we were contemporaries and he did a great job.

What kind of diet and exercise regimen do you have?

Insufficient is probably the best single descriptor. I try to go to the gym three to four times per week, but probably on average I’m closer to one or two. I love to eat, but I try to restrain myself. I rarely eat desserts anymore and I try not to clean my plate when I go out to eat.

What do you think will have the biggest influence on oncology in the next 10 years?

All of the targeted therapies, individualized therapy and understanding the genome will continue and will be spectacular, but one challenge we haven’t come to grips with yet — at least most of us — is the issue of access and personnel. Cancer patients are living longer; there will be more cancer patients and at the moment we are projecting a manpower shortage in the care of cancer patients. Those three things will come together in ways that may change how care is provided. It’s important that we start to think about that … it’s past the time for us to start to think about that. It intersects with survivorship, as well as prevention — the fact that more patients are going to get cancer — because there are more patients. It’s an important issue.

What is your favorite travel destination?

The north of Scotland. I love the landscape, the temperate, mild climate and I love the golf courses. I’ve been there three times in my life; not often enough.

What is your favorite restaurant?

I’m not sure I really have one favorite restaurant. My favorite type of food is fish. I like spicy and unusual preparations of almost any kind of fish and seafood. – by Stacey L. Adams